Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education and Skills Thomas Byrne says his party is open to supporting the introduction of a coding curriculum at primary and secondary school level.

Deputy Byrne pointed out that Fianna Fáil’s ‘Securing the Future’ policy document sets out a clear rationale and pathway for introducing courses to facilitate coding learning from a young age.

“It’s clear that industry needs more people with strong computer science skills. Currently there is no formal computer science education at secondary level and as a result of this there are advanced skills shortages in the tech sector. This can only be fixed by facilitating the learning of computer science skills from a young age,” said Deputy Byrne.

“Learning a computer language is like learning a foreign language – the younger you start the easier it is. This is one reason why the Governments only current initiative to increase the number of computer science graduates has failed. This system simply provides a top-up to third level institutions for each computer science graduate they churn out. However it does not create the necessary environment to learn coding from a young age.

“The low supply of computer science graduates has led to significant wage inflation in the tech sector. This has a particularly negative effect on our indigenous tech sector. It leads to a dangerous concentration of Ireland’s tech economy in the multi-national sector and has a stifling effect on entrepreneurship. This is why Fianna Fáil proposed the introduction of a basic computational science curriculum at primary level, with more advanced skills being thought at secondary level.

“We proposed the introduction of a similar curriculum to that introduced in the UK. A new mixed technology skills curriculum has been introduced in the UK at primary level. This puts less emphasis on ICT learning and greater emphasis on a practical computer learning curriculum. The goal is for children to be fluent in two programming languages by age 11.

“The UK government is bridging the knowledge gap among teachers by recruiting and funding a network of 400 master computer science teachers to liaise with universities. They will help teachers to develop materials and to deliver the new curriculum to schools across the country.

“Without action here, there is a real risk that Ireland could be left behind in terms of computer science literacy. These are key skills for the future and we must focus on rolling out coding across the education system without delay,” concluded Deputy Byrne.